Route 625 bridge replacement in Cumru begins Monday

In 1975 Edie Shean-Hammond started her career with the National Park Service as a park technician.

"I thought it was a summer job," Shean-Hammond said. "I stay-ed and have not looked back."

Now, having recently been appointed the su-perintendent of Hope-well Furnace National Historic Site, Shean-Hammond's 30-year ca-reer is merging with three centuries of history at this southern Berks County landmark.

Joining Shean-Ham-mond and the historic site's staff on Saturday for March in the Parks were 83 volunteers, including Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and members of the Friends of Hopewell Furnace.

"They gave two to three hours of their Saturday morning to help clean the park," said Ranger Norm Feil.

Clearing the roads of trash and the trails of brush and fallen branches, Feil said the volunteers filled a pickup truck bed with trash.

Then Feil led Shean-Hammond and a group of volunteers on a tour of one end of the park.

"We have a story that is so rich, it spans three centuries," Shean-Ham-mond said.

In the 1930s, Feil explained, the federal government used the area as a demonstration project for the Civilian Conservation Corps and turned the old furnace lands into a recreation area.

Feil showed the group a home that he said historians believe has been unused since the late 1800s.

"But I know a woman who said she was born in the home in 1938," he said.

Feil and Shean-Ham-mond said the land had all that was needed for an 18th century iron plantation, with trees for charcoal and natural streams for water power.

They said plantation founder Mark Bird own-ed 17 slaves who built the duct that channeled water to the waterwheel, which powered the furnace.

The next day, Sunday, March 19, at Mount Car-mel Church in Elverson, local musician Robert Mouland played period instruments during a reception for the new superintendent.

Terry Stauffer, president of the Friends of Hopewell Furnace, which held the welcoming event, said the organization has about 35 members.

"We're trying to rejuvenate and reactive the friends," Stauffer said.

He said the friends help to raise funds and work with other groups around the park.

Stauffer said many of the interpreters at the park's events are members.

Shean-Hammond said she plans to work closely with the friends group.

"Together, we will breathe new life into Hopewell Furnace Nat-ional Historic Site," she said.

Shean-Hammond, whose most recent ass-ignment was at Indepen-dence Hall in Philadel-phia, said, "I have had more fun since I started at Hopewell in Feb-ruary."

When she first came to the park, Shean-Hammond said she ask-ed Chief Ranger Jeffrey Collins how they managed the park with 40 buildings and only three and one half maintenance people.

"We have lots of friends," Collins said.

Which is good, since Shean-Hammond said, "I am looking for lots and lots of help to make Hopewell the jewel it can be."

"At one point Hope-well had 200,0000 visitors a year and we will again," Shean-Hamm-ond told the group.

"You will make it fun for me and I will work to make it fun for you," she said.

comments powered by Disqus